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The principle of protective custody under National Socialism

Based on the Prussian law, the principle of protective custody was introduced under National Socialism.

The »Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and the State« of 28 February 1933 created the basis for protective custody in the German Reich. It was a reaction to the Reichstag fire. Basic rights and also the individual‘s right to personal freedom were suspended.

This created a possibility for the Geheime Staatspolizei (Secret State Police) to exercise arbitrary police power, which was not bound by the rule of law. The detainees had no legal protection.

From the spring of 1933, it was mainly functionaries of the labour movement, communists and Jews who were affected by protective custody. After their arrest, the persons concerned were imprisoned in prisons and concentration camps. The length of imprisonment varied greatly. The Nazis imprisoned people for a few hours, for days or for several months.

Since autumn 1933, the execution of protective custody was to take place only in concentration camps. For this purpose, the people concerned were first detained after their arrest in a prison, such as the police prison in Klapperfeldstraße. After imprisonment there, people were deported to different concentration camps such as Dachau, Buchenwald and Ravensbrück.

Over time, protective custody became an integral part of Nazi repression and was also applied to clerics, ‚asocials‘, Sinti and Roma, ‚work-shy‘ people, homosexuals, Bible scholars and many others.

After the beginning of the war in 1939, those who were taken into protective custody were not to be released until at least the end of the war. The costs of detention in the prisons had to be paid by the detainees themselves.

Letter on the calculation of protective custody costs, page 1
Letter on the calculation of protective custody costs, page 2
Protective custody costs: People who were imprisoned by the National Socialist repressive apparatus under the pretext of »protective custody« often had to pay the costs of imprisonment themselves. This document from 27 March 1940 provides information on the settlement of protective custody costs. For example, 1.50 Reichsmark (RM) had to be paid for one day. The costs were broken down into 0.20 RM for morning food, 0.50 RM for lunch, 0.40 RM for evening food and 0.40 RM for sitting costs.. (Source: Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv)